Some of the more fastidious gardeners I know sketch out little garden plans every spring or late winter. They know exactly what they’ve planted in the past and how well it went over. They know which plants got wilt, mold, or bug infestations in previous years, and when. They know where there was overcrowding or bald spots that need remedying, too.
Many moons ago, I met a photographer at a Seattle street festival who peddled portraits of eyes. Festival-goers were paying her $25 or $30 a pop to have her photograph their eyeballs in extreme close-up. There wasn’t so much as an eyelash in her photographs, just iris and pupil, and the images were simply gorgeous. She also did collage-style family portraits. By that, I mean collections showcasing whole families’ eyeballs. (One family even included their parrot’s eyeball in their collage!)
I hadn’t fully grasped before that day how breathtaking the human eye is. Each one had so much depth, color, and complexity. Don’t even get me started on the detail. Ever since, I’ve been captivated by any photograph that’s all about the eyes. They don’t even have to be in extreme close-up. Take, for example, this iconic cover from the June 1985 issue of National Geographic:
I watched Girl, Interrupted for the first time earlier this week. There’s a scene whenAngelina Jolie’s character, in a delirious state of rage, yells, “There are too many buttons in the world!” That struck me as kind of funny. Smart phones, tablets, or laptops didn’t even exist at that time.
We really do live in a sea of buttons now. And people who are turned off by that are often turned off by digital cameras. Having to burrow down through menus on LCD screens to control shutter speed? That’s unappealing to someone who used to just switch from 200-speed film to 800 to get the job done.
Why would anyone have a photograph printed on metal? Is it just the novelty? Maybe a passing fad? Actually, metal is an excellent medium for photographic prints because it greatly enhances image vibrancy, sharpness, and depth. Plus, it’s durability can’t be beat. Neither novelty nor fad, metal prints are here to stay—and you really ought to try one on for size.
I don’t actually know if Cupid loves red. Maybe he prefers pink. But since we’re ambushed with the color red in February in celebration of Valentine’s Day, we really ought to talk about photographing it. Red is famously one of the most difficult colors to capture authentically on film, especially in natural lighting. And trying to do that makes a lot of photographers see, well, red.
Sometime in late 2008, four college students traveled to Sudan with the goal of photographing the situation there. They had no designs on taking the photographs themselves. Rather, they wanted to see Sudan from a child’s perspective. So, they armed five orphans there with cameras, taught them the basics of how to take photographs, and let them loose for a few weeks to capture Sudan as only they could. The often beautiful, eye-opening images spawned an exhibit and further travels to different areas in the world. The resulting project, called 100cameras, would reach children and communities from the Bronx to Cuba. Continue reading
Objects in the mirror may appear closer than they are. That little phrase on my car’s rearview mirror doesn’t just give me wiggle room when I’m trying to switch lanes in heavy traffic. It also gives me food for thought about photography. Bear with me while I get a little philosophical on you, but if you take my rearview mirror’s verbiage, pair it with a little Jean-Paul Sartre, and apply it all to photography, you’ll start seeing self-portraits a little differently. I know I did.